Moore on that Subject: Part 2

Phillip Fulmer wasn't even the head coach when he won his first Vol season opener. He was "acting coach" on Sept. 5, 1992, when he guided the Vols to a 38-3 pasting of Southwestern Louisiana as a fill-in for Johnny Majors, who was recovering from open-heart surgery. When Majors subsequently was ousted that November, Fulmer wound up getting credit for the USL outing, along with subsequent defeats of Georgia and Florida, plus a Hall of Fame Bowl blitz of Boston College.

Fulmer succeeded Majors in '93 and has won eight of nine openers since then, raising his record in opening games to 9-1.

Here's a recap of Fulmer's openers:

1992: UT 38, Southwestern Louisiana 3. Fulmer's debut got off to a rocky start, as USL led 3-0 after one quarter. Tennessee exploded for 24 second-quarter points, however, and coasted from there. Heath Shuler attempted just nine passes but made them count, completing eight for 130 yards and two touchdowns.

1993: UT 50, Louisiana Tech 0. A 24-point second quarter propelled Tennessee to a 36-0 halftime lead and a lopsided defeat of Tech, coached by Joe Raymond Peace, father of current Vol linebacker Robert Peace. Heath Shuler threw three TD passes and younger brother Benjie caught a TD pass ... but it was from backup QB Jerry Colquitt.

1994: UCLA 25, UT 23. Seven plays into his first start as UT's quarterback, fifth-year senior Jerry Colquitt tore his ACL on a scramble. He would never play again. With the Vols down 18-0 early in the final period, backup QB Todd Helton guided them to 23 fourth-quarter points but the Bruins held on to win.

1995: UT 27, East Carolina 7. Tennessee marched 87 yards to score a touchdown on its first possession of the season but struggled thereafter. Peyton Manning completed six of six passes on that initial drive but connected on just 11 of 23 thereafter. Jeff Hall debuted with field goals of 36 and 27 yards.

1996: UT 62, Nevada-Las Vegas 3. Terry Fair and Eric Westmoreland returned fumbles for touchdowns as Tennessee registered a rousing debut. The Vols jumped to a 21-0 first-quarter bulge and led 56-3 after three quarters.

1997: UT 52, Texas Tech 7. Leading just 10-3, Tennessee scored two touchdowns in the final 1:42 of the first half and added three third-quarter TDs en route to a big victory. Peyton Manning completed 26 of 38 passes for 310 yards and five touchdowns. UT piled up 528 yards of total offense and 32 first downs.

1998: UT 34, Syracuse 33. Jeff Hall drilled a 27-yard field goal as time ran out to conclude perhaps the most dramatic opener in UT history, turning a 33-31 deficit into a 34-33 victory. Tee Martin, making his starting debut as the Vol quarterback, guided the winning drive in the game's final 2:28. Donovan McNabb completed 22 of 28 passes for 300 yards in defeat.

1999: UT 42, Wyoming 17. Tennessee's defense recorded a school-record 13 sacks and the defending national champ Vols scored 28 second-quarter points en route to their 14th consecutive victory. Jamal Lewis rushed 25 times for 159 yards and three TDs, while Cedrick Wilson caught seven passes for 183 yards and two more scores.

2000: UT 19, Southern Miss 16. Joey Mathews made his only career start for the Vols, throwing a first-quarter interception that helped USM grab a quick 3-0 lead. Backup QB A.J. Suggs eventually hit Donte' Stallworth with a 51-yard touchdown pass that gave Tennessee a 19-3 third-quarter lead. The visitors scored two late TDs but Tennessee held on, registering the 700th win in school history.

2001: UT 33, Syracuse 9. Casey Clausen hooked up with Donte' Stallworth for a 37-yard touchdown pass on Tennessee's first offensive play of the season but the pace slowed considerably thereafter. Reserve tailback Corey Larkins scored on runs of 38 and 16 yards against a tiring Orangemen defense in the fourth quarter to make the game look more one-sided than it actually was.


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